Fierce Defender: St. Joseph Is ‘Terror of Demons’

Does the devil fear St. Joseph more than any other saint?

This painting by artist Bernadette Carstensen was commissioned by Father Donald Calloway because ‘Terror of Demons’ is his favorite title for St. Joseph. The image can be found in his book, ‘Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father,’ and is available at Father Calloway’s website,
This painting by artist Bernadette Carstensen was commissioned by Father Donald Calloway because ‘Terror of Demons’ is his favorite title for St. Joseph. The image can be found in his book, ‘Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father,’ and is available at Father Calloway’s website, (photo: Courtesy of Father Donald Calloway)

In Scripture, he spoke not a word, yet St. Joseph was God’s chosen to head the Holy Family. 

The degree of his holiness is unimaginable yet measurable by the degree to which demons fear him, according to exorcists, who say that, after the Virgin Mary, the devil fears St. Joseph more than any other saint. In the Litany of St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus is invoked under a number of titles, including “Terror of Demons.” 

“People sometimes think of St. Joseph as a quiet, kindly old man, but not very effectual,” Msgr. Stephen Rossetti told the Register. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”   

Msgr. Rossetti has been an exorcist for the Archdiocese of Washington for more than 12 years, is a licensed psychologist and research associate professor at The Catholic University of America, and is the president and founder of the The St. Michael Center for Spiritual Renewal.

“God himself picked St. Joseph to defend the Son and his mother,” he said. “They were the targets of great demonic assaults as well as human assaults, especially those of Herod. Next to Our Lady, he is the greatest of saints in defending against Satan, and we regularly invoke him in our exorcism sessions, with great benefit.”

According to Msgr. Rossetti, devotion to St. Joseph is surging. 

“I believe it is part of God’s plan to assist us in these dark times,” he said. 

“St. Joseph will powerfully shepherd us, alongside the Virgin Mary, to safety. He is the model of human fatherhood.” 

“I call on St. Joseph very much during exorcisms,” Msgr. John Esseff, a 92-year-old priest and exorcist in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who currently lives in Villa St. Joseph for retired priests, told the Register. 

“The demons are terrified of him.” 

“One of the things that I have found in talking with people is that the biggest wound is the father wound,” he said. “All of us are being called to look to St. Joseph, not only as the Terror of Demons, but as a father figure. We need an earthly father who will show us again what a real dad is like.”

Msgr. Esseff reflected that when God looked for someone to be like him, it was Joseph whom he placed at the head of the Holy Family. “Jesus called him ‘Abba’; ‘Father.’” 


Father Calloway

In an interview, Marian Father Donald Calloway, who published the bestselling book Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, told the Register, “With families under attack, marriages falling apart, people turning away from God, and so much anxiety and fear, we really need St. Joseph’s protection.” 

Demons fear St. Joseph for two primary reasons, according him. “When St. Joseph makes a petition to Jesus, it’s a paternal petition,” he said. “No one else can do that. The devil knows that, and it terrifies him. God doesn’t obey angels, but Our Lady and St. Joseph are his mom and dad. The devil doesn’t want us to tap into that.”

The purity of St. Joseph is another reason the devil fears him, Father Calloway explained. “That lily he’s always shown holding is a spiritual lance. He has the most chaste heart. His virtue is only outdone by Our Lady, and that is a terror to the devil.”

Father Calloway encourages all men to realize, by the example of St. Joseph, the power that fatherhood and purity have over the forces of darkness. “Men who are impure have no power,” he said. “If men resemble St. Joseph, the kingdom of Satan will be destroyed. This terrifies them. The purity of St. Joseph is a weapon against the filth and perversions of the devil.”

Bartolo Longo, a former Satanist who was beatified in 1980, was featured in Father Calloway’s book as someone who relied on St. Joseph to battle demons. Longo lived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Latiano, Italy. He became anti-Catholic and fell into the occult, becoming a priest of Satan. Following physical and psychological suffering, Longo sought guidance from a priest and turned back to Catholicism. He became a Third Order Dominican and dedicated his life to the spread of the Rosary. He also built the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii. “Bartolo knew he had to fight fire with fire,” Father Calloway said. 

“He began to invoke St. Joseph and prayed to him every day under the title ‘Terror of Demons’ as the antidote to the poison.” 


The Strong Silent Type

Father Joseph Marquis, pastor of Sacred Heart Byzantine Church that houses the All Saints Shrine in Livonia, Michigan, was named after St. Joseph. 

“I love the image of the sleeping St. Joseph,” he said. “My twin brother, Richard, bought me one. The idea is to give your intentions to St. Joseph to sleep on it. One of the writings of Blessed Bartolo talks about [how] the sleep of Joseph is a force of fear for the devil.” 

This Lent, his parish is holding a lecture series titled, “The Strong, Silent Type: An Exploration of St. Joseph’s Seven Manly Virtues.”

 “We are approaching it from the seven deadly sins and contrasting that with the seven lively virtues that St. Joseph would have possessed: humility, charity, kindness, forgiveness, chastity, temperance and fortitude,” Father Marquis explained. “What I love about him is he was the most common of men; he had a wife and son and worked with his hands. And he had to hide the identity of this son,” Father Marquis said. 

He also admires his silence. “St. Joseph was the type of individual who had a thundering silence. His actions spoke louder than words and echoes down through the centuries. There are a lot of Bible passages about silence, and Joseph was silent in Scripture.”

That quiet example speaks loudly in today’s world, according to Father Marquis. “We think we are so sophisticated shoving words at one another,” he said. 

“Joseph has an important lesson to teach: He had a divine unction that gave him a sense of direction and certainty and serenity. He was always open to the will of God — and that’s the terror of demons: people completely open to the will of God.”